A Project for Co-operative Enquiry in Cloughjordan Ecovillage.
What’s the idea?
The Exchange is an exciting project to develop a new kind of immersive learning environment. It will bring together an evolving community of practice that lives and learns together, whilst also creating opportunities for the wider population to explore questions of sustainability, community, resilience and leadership.
Where is it?
A site has been secured at a prime location within the Cloughjordan Ecovillage, on the western side of its main Market Square.
Situated between ‘Django’s’, an existing 32-bed Ecohostel to the south, and the site of a planned Cultural/Community Centre to the north, the Exchange building will sit at the heart of the educational and cultural hub of the ecovillage, amid the thriving ecology of innovative projects and organisations establishing themselves in Cloughjordan.
A co-operative of stakeholders will develop the Exchange centre, which will provide affordable and flexible accommodation, based on the principles of Co-housing [see below], along with a cutting edge learning space which is also adaptable to a range of convivial activities.
Equity shares in the co-operative will entitle its members to spend regular annual periods living in suitable accommodation, making use of shared facilities, and innovative learning programmes.
The centre will be part of the Ecovillage, in which the co-operative’s members will also be fully engaged.
What’s its ethos?
The project will develop according to several founding principles.
It will display integrity, acting as a model of what it learns in everything it does.
It will show resilience by demonstrating flexibility, affordability, co-operation and mutual support.
- Structures, physical and otherwise, will be designed to allow for easy adaptation and evolution.
- Personal and collective costs, and especially debts, will be minimised.
- Livelihoods will be developed collaboratively.
- Sharing-without-tears will be fostered by clear boundaries and process.
The Ecovillage project has played a large part in the recent regeneration of the midlands town of Cloughjordan. It includes 22 acres of residential development within a 67 acre site that also has land designated for food growing and for woodland, the WeCreate food hub and enterprise centre, a district heating system fuelled by woodchip and a large array of solar collectors, and its own in-house IT company and internet provider.
It has spawned the Cloughjordan Community Farm, a wholefoods buyers club, and has contributed to the spirit of active citizenship seen in the town.
A number of national businesses and organisations are now based here, including Cultivate, FEASTA, Local Switch....
The local wood-fired bakery just won several awards for excellence and there is a burgeoning community of artists and craftspeople.
The town has also attracted investment for an extensive enhancement plan and is in the process of developing the Thomas McDonagh heritage centre, along with a number of refurbishment and public art projects.
The Ecovillage is an educational charity and has a workgroup dedicated to establishing Cloughjordan as a destination for place-based learning.
The concept of Co-housing is to find the best balance between the economic, ecological and social value of sharing with others, and the human need for privacy and our own space.
When living in community we need to be able to choose how much to engage with the collective, or how much to be private, at any time. Private accommodation provides everything that is necessary for individual comfort, but is able to be kept to a minimum by sharing other facilities.
It is an example of a new Sharing Economy that is growing in response to a variety of ongoing financial and social pressures. By making use of advanced learning in organisation and process design, we can learn to manage the extra complexity of sharing in a way that promotes collaboration and wellbeing.